Uncle Sam takes possession of Manafort’s 5 luxury homes after judge’s final ruling

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., approved the final step Thursday in the seizure of five luxury homes owned by Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman now serving time in a northern Pennsylvania prison.

Uncle Sam is now the owner of a 10-bedroom mansion in the Hamptons, the summer playground for Wall Street bankers and Hollywood stars on the eastern tip of New York’s Long Island. The estate has a putting green, a tennis court, and a pool that comes with an adjacent pool house large enough to be someone’s home.

About a year ago, the Hamptons estate was featured in Manafort’s trial on charges of tax evasion and other financial crimes. The landscaper testified that Manafort paid him almost half a million dollars over several years, often with money wired from offshore accounts, to tailor the lawn, trim the hedges and install a flower bed with white and red plants in the shape of an “M.”

The U.S. government also acquired Manafort’s Trump Tower condominium, although like many of the other properties it’s saddled with large mortgages. Manafort bought the unit in 2006 for $3.675 million, and its current value is $3.828 million, according to an estimate on Realtor.com. So, while there was some appreciation in value while Manafort owned the 1,500-square-foot unit, it wasn’t enough to keep pace with inflation. The money Manafort paid for the unit in 2006 is the equivalent of $4.7 million in today’s dollars, according to a calculator on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

From the condo’s number, #43G, it would appear to be on the 43rd floor, but that’s a bit of an “alternative fact,” to use the phrase made famous by Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. In the real world it’s on the 33rd floor. During construction, Trump decided to have the elevator buttons skip 10 floors to make the building seem larger. In city records, Trump Tower has 58 floors, but by Trump’s system of floor numbering, it’s 68.

The government also seized a seven-bedroom townhouse at 377 Union Street in Brooklyn, New York, valued at $3.7 million on Zillow. Add to that a three-bedroom, three-bath, apartment at 123 Baxter Street in lower Manhattan and a condominium at 29 Howard Street in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood. 

Manafort agreed to forfeit the homes after he pleaded guilty in September 2018 to conspiracy charges related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference. By doing so, Manafort avoided a second trial. While he initially agreed to cooperate with investigators, the deal fell apart after prosecutors proved to the judge that Manafort was lying to them.

In addition to paying off millions in outstanding mortgages, the government will have to pay overdue condominium charges to the Trump Tower condo board as part of a forfeiture deal.

Published at Fri, 31 May 2019 19:45:00 +0000